2020 Intentions

In Life and Startups

Photo by Immo Wegmann on Unsplash

I did a Google image search for “2020 intentions”and had a good chuckle. Many of us started this year with the best of intentions, and it all went awry. Regardless of how this year has turned out, I hope you are still able to look back with a small amount gratitude and see how intentions might have just lived out differently in this unprecedented year.

When I started writing I had three objectives:

1. Write all the lessons I learned while building a venture backed unicorn company in hopes of helping future founders. The kind of real help like how to fire and how to hire. How to deal with all the emotions you need to face when leading people. 

2. Write for the co-founders who were not the CEO. The CEO is incredibly important, it takes a whole team to make it happen, but there are not as many resources for those non-CEO founders. And, it was a perspective I knew.

3. Become more courageous to tell my (our) story in hopes of inspiring others who didn’t look like the default to inspire them. 

At the heart of these objectives is to help founders. After we sold our company  [a], I was suddenly untethered from an anchor and my love at the same time. With nothing grounding me, I jumped to something to occupy my time and my heart and became an investor. What better way to continue to find purpose by helping other founders with everything I learned. The quote by Picasso has a continuously resounded: 

The meaning of life is to find your gift, the purpose of life is to give it away. 

I went to the best place for founders and learned from the best. [b]  The problem with learning from the best, is you realize how much you do not know,  and I was left with a load of imposter syndrome too and to some extent - discontent. [c] I felt I should have been happier given all the external validation I was receiving.

Any happiness derived from external validation will be temporary. 

But to learn something, you had to have not known it before. I soon found once I left YC last year I knew so much more than when I started. I had two years of working with the best founders and investors. As a founder-turned-investor, you realize that your founder experience is just one data point. Being able to see across a vast majority to see similarities and trends requires several data points to make you expert! And I thought the trends and patterns are what would be most valuable to founders.

Imagine my surprise, when I looked back on 2020, to find that most of my most popular articles weren’t always the ones around investing, but the ones that came from my personal experience as a founder. A huge thank you to all the subscribers who are on this journey with me. An even bigger thank you to all the founders who have let me in on their journey somehow either through a conversation or even reading and sharing this newsletter. 

Without further ado, here were the most popular posts of 2020:

How to Talk to Users (most viewed)
Party Like it’s 2008  and How Do You Know you Have Product Market Fit (tied for most favorited)
When you are not the default (most commented incl. notes I received)

Surviving for 2020 is an amazing feat. All of us have experienced loss, some more than others this year. So please be kind to yourself as you look back on 2020. 

Start small, because it is in the little things you will find how big life is. 

🥂Here is to 2021 and helping more founders!

🙏Thank You

At the beginning of 2020, I put together a writing group, and they put in countless reads of my drafts, but more than that they gave countless hours and energy of encouragment and support. Thank you Jen Liao and Karen Hong for being more than just a writing group!

For those still looking for some New Year’s Eve plans in front of Zoom, the folks at TruffleShuffle have put together a great 1920s experience in partnership with the Speakeasy. TruffleShuffle was created by 3 ex-Michelin chefs who wanted to share their love of truffle mushrooms by opening up a restaurant. And then the pandemic hit. So, they pivoted to a full online experience.

I tried their cook along experience, and they do a great job of making it entertaining, informative and memorable. Plus you get to eat your yummy creation afterwards; plus they send you all the ingredients; and plus each kit enables them to donate a meal for a family in need.  If you sign up, go ahead and use my code to get 10% off.

There is still time! 👟

2020 has been rough. Some, more than others. Females founders have hit a 3-year low in funding, and many are dubbing this time as a Female Recession. On top of that almost 300,000 Americans have died from COVID.

For every new subscriber, I will donate $1 to AllRaise which supports female founders and funders and DirectRelief, ensuring COVID-relief to those who need it.

So, during this season, please share it with your startup friends who will find this newsletter helpful, because sharing is caring. ❤️

Share Founder Musings

[a] We sold to Netmarble and FoxNext in 2017. [b] I joined Y Cominbator as a Visiting Partner in W18 and left after S19. [c] I was the only woman on my founding team and one of two group partners at YC that were women. I’ve been sifting through the impact this has for those that are not of the default of white male and the ecosystem.